ANNAPOLIS, Md. - After two days of hearings on a dining ban in Anne Arundel County, restaurants can continue to serve people inside at 25 percent capacity.
The decision came Wednesday morning after a push from County Executive Steuart Pittman for a complete ban failed to get any traction.
Following the new executive order, restaurant owners agreed to dismiss a lawsuit that challenged the county’s previous suspension of indoor dining until Jan. 13.
With restrictions somewhat looser in counties like Anne Arundel, neighboring jurisdictions like Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties are only still allowed to serve outside.
Many restaurants in both counties have had to adjust and adapt to the order of a complete indoor ban by setting up outside tents, or domes that are heated and offering carry-out.
Restaurant operators are hoping that people who are still planning to have lunch or dinner for New Year’s Eve will take advantage of those options instead of skipping them all together and going to areas where some indoor dining is still allowed.
"We’ve been hanging on," said Antionette Carter, Supervisor at Topolino’s in Camp Springs.
"We’ve been doing pretty good and we have a lot of dedicated customers. Of course usually this place is packed but since Covid, we have to take a hit because of the restrictions which I understand we have to have in place."
"It hasn’t been easy as we all know it’s been challenging times but we are always putting our guests first," said Moises Lopez, General Manager of Fogo De Chao in Rockville.
"On the opposite side some other restaurants aren’t doing any outdoor because it’s too cold but we choose to do all that we can and build this tent.
We are expecting a better year in 2021 so going forward we will just have to wait for the authorities to open up the indoors again."
As far as the tents and domes are concerned, Fox 5’s Ayesha Khan spoke with Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security who said that while the tent option might be picking up popularity, the risk will always be there especially as the tents start to mimic indoor dining.
"If you’re eating with people you haven’t mixed with and you have to take your mask down to eat there is going to be respiratory droplets that come out of your mouth or they can land in your mouth from another person," explained Adalja.
"So that’s why you have to be careful about who you’re sitting around a table with or who you were in very close proximity with when you’re not wearing a mask."